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I am helping to plan and co-lead online training on Stress, Loss, and Grief , for a GENERAL (IE non-professional) audience.  We plan to use the Zoom meeting application. 

I am seeking trauma-informed recommendations about how to provide virtual safe spaces for participants, who may be triggered by something arising out of the training and may need support from someone, who is prepared to do so, if needs arise.

How might Zoom  or alternative / additional platforms or communication technology be employed to offer optional safe spaces during and following the training? 

In addition, what pre-event training, such as Psychological or Mental Health First Aid, would be most helpful to prepare those, who will be "staffing" these safe spaces?  

Gratefully, Marshall




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Thanks Marshall, an important area and good question.  We are exploring a similar territory with our partners (in Glasgow, Scotland) and looking to work up a range of guidance to support online mental health-related training.  Not ready to share at this stage, but very interested to hear others' perspectives and approaches on this - risk mitigation and staff support systems etc

I’m interested in this topic. Typically in my work we have EAs, Emotional Assistants, and a procedure for helping a triggered student exit, receive β€˜Emotional First-Aid’ to ground and re-balance, and then return to class at hand. I’m looking for easier ways to create a virtual breakout room for them, so happy to hear more, from everyone. Currently using Zoom, btw

An idea to consider is incorporating some regulation/grounding activities into the training.  By doing so you can help prime the people for learning, teach good coping skills, and help them regulate periodically in case they are getting worked up at all.  We start off Adverse Childhood Experiences Interface virtual training with a disclosure that since it is virtual we are unable to check on them as we do in person if they leave the room without a thumbs up, we also put a resource list up in the beginning and again at the end of the training in case the info hits them a little later after it is processed.  We ask that people leave their cameras on so that we can monitor facial expressions and reach out individually in chat if we are concerned.  Having people devoted to checking in is a great idea, although it is a bit more difficult during virtual training.  Very important work you're doing, especially given the current state of the world.  Stress and toxic stress is having a huge impact on the world, and many have people are experiencing grief from loss or separation.  

I invite you to check out our 'trauma-informed meeting guidelines' which is one of the free offerings on our resource page at Many of the same things apply whether the meeting is in-person or virtual. 

I would not insist on seeing people's faces. I find Zoom very intrusive, especially as people see into my home. Give people the safety of just calling in if they want to. 

Can you ask people to find 'empathy buddies' when you do breakout rooms? That way everyone has someone to talk with. Of course, you should explain what empathy is and what it is not beforehand. (Not explaining, comparing experiences, problem-solving, etc.)

My 2 cents. 



I am trying to solve the same issue so that we can continue to provide TIC training to child care providers. My initial thought was to have a breakout room specifically for regulation purposes and a staff member on hand who can facilitate regulation strategies and be there to offer general support. Unfortunately, I do not have staff in our Foster Bridge program, it is just me. I am eager to learn from this community regarding best practices in establishing a virtual system of emotional support.

Hi Marshall, I've been doing quite a few v virtual trainings on ACES and the New Self Care in the Substance Abuse community. I preface the training with telling them that they may be triggered - I give them my email so that if they do, I can provide personalized recommendations and resources. I also start each training with teaching and spending several minutes with basic diaphragmatic breathing. I advise them if they start to get anxious, to use the diaphragmatic breathing.

Hope that helps. If you have any questions feel free to email me at


With love, gratitude and heart, Leslie

Lou, I really resonate with, and appreciate your suggestion of the term "empathy buddies." I'll keep that in mind..

By the way, it's interesting to note - if anyone watched Tania Singer at the (online) Trauma Conference - that she drew a very important distinction between compassion and empathy. She explained that the term 'compassion fatigue' is a misnomer, since compassion implies a capacity for maintaining objectivity, whereas empathy draws one into the other's orbit with much more force, together with a lessened ability to maintain distance and self-care. When that inability creates a blurring of boundaries between individuals, and when one stops differentiating between one's own pain and that of the other, this leads to "empathic distress" - ergo "empathy distress fatigue" is a more precise term. Watch the replay with Tania if you can, it's well worth it.

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